Bike the Big Apple 2012

New_york_2012

On August 2nd four Canadians took to the streets of New York on bicycles to explore the city. We met Jesse, our tour guide (owner of bikethebigapple.com), at a storage locker in Harlem. From there the 5 of us ventured out on fitted bikes (mine had the cutest bell with a squirrel on it) and helmets. We made many stops along the route to take photos, get a short history lesson or hear an interesting anecdote.

Here are some of my favourite moments on the tour… 

  1. After a short ride through Central Park we took the Ed Koch Bridge over to Long Island City which included a stop at 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc. A cool outdoor art exhibit space considered to be the world’s premiere “graffiti mecca”.
  2. Another noteworthy stop was on a street in Brooklyn named Fillmore Place which was mentioned in “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” a 1943 novel written by Betty Smith as well as “Tropic of Capricorn” by Henry Miller.  The city has turned the one-block-long Fillmore Place in Williamsburg into a historic district. One of the houses on the block was Henry Miller’s boyhood home. In some of the less explicit passages of “Tropic of Capricorn,” Miller wrote that Fillmore Place is “the most enchanting street I have ever seen in all my life” and “the ideal street”. One of the home owners on the little street has taken the time to post a plaque on their front gate with a passage from Tropic of Capricorn. To the delight of the home owner, Jesse liked it so much that he’s incorporated the reading of the plaque on to his tour of the area.
  3. After working up an appetite we made a quick stop at Oasis Take Out at 161 North 7th Street for some tasty Middle Eastern Shawarma.
  4. Another area of Brooklyn that we passed through was Bedford-Stuyvesan a.k.a. “Bed-Stuy” which has a reputation as being one of the rougher neighbourhoods. Several famous people are from this area including The Notorious B.I.G. and rapper Lil’ Kim, rapper/actor Mos Def, and actor/comedian Chris Rock. Jesse told us about a reference to the area in a Billy Joel song. Billy, while trying to describe how tough he is, wrote “I was stranded in the Combat Zone / I walked through Bedford-Stuy alone / even rode my motorcycle in the rain”.
  5. The last leg of the tour took us on a bike path along the Hudson River. It was a very hot day so the breeze off the water was a welcome relief.  Towards the end of the tour we stopped at a riverside café for some hydration in the form of a nice Brooklyn Lager. Following which Jesse took us through the campus of Columbia University and back to Harlem.

All together we cycled 43km in 6 hours. The tour took us though Harlem, Central Park, Long Island City, Queens, Fort Green, Williamsburg, downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan. This was a “custom” tour just for the 4 of us. We liked being able to set the pace and the agenda and was well worth the little extra money. We would highly recommend it! 

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One NYC bridge after another after another #cycling #nyc

For our upcoming trip to NYC, we’ve once again engaged bikethebigapple.com to take us on a cycling tour. We’re opted, this time, for the “Bridge Delight Tour”. Although this tour usually takes 8 hours we’ve asked them to condense it, for us, in to approx. 5 hours. (We learned last year that the pace was a very slow). They are more than happy to accomodate our small group (2 couples) albeit for a price. We have no problem paying a little extra to get the tour done in a time frame that suits us better. This leaves us more time for a lovely evening meal in one of NYC fabulous restaurants and after 5 hours of cycling we will have earned it!

*Photo taken on the Brooklyn Bridge in 2011

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“BRIDGE DELIGHT TOUR – This tour is for those in good shape who are looking for a unique, faster paced, and challenging ride. Since each of the bridges has its own dedicated bike path, the challenge lies in the heights to scale. While not quite the Alps, it is nonetheless up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down, as we go over four great bridges!” source: http://bikethebigapple.com/ODtour4.shtml

 

 

Canada Day group bicycle ride. 106 km. Are you game? #cycling

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I have not particapted in this event in the past…mainly because I didn’t know about it. Seriously considering it this year. 

“Bikes+Beans will be hosting its 6th annual Canada Day ride on Sunday, … July 1st!!! Please join us on our 106km ride. Of course there will be some hills but we picked the flattest route we believe to be possible to get a 100K ride in. For any of you having attended last year’s ride(and the year before) it is the same route. 

Meet at Bikes+Beans and be ready to ride for 9am. Don’t forget to show your colours of red and white and get out the tattoos.”

For more info go to Facebook and “like” the Bikes & Beans’ page.

when the cat’s away…the mouse will play #cycling #quispam

I cheated on my husband tonight and boys is he going to be miffed when he gets home. BUT It’s not what you think..I went cycling with 24 other smart/fit/sexy/determined ladies. The Tuesday night ride organized by “Bikes & Beans” is dubbed the “Quick Chicks” and quick they are! Most were on road bikes which put me at a slight disadvantage (I ride a hybrid) but I did find that the hills and wind were the great equalizer. That being said, the overall pace was a few kilometres per hour faster than I’m used to and I’m going to feel it tomorrow. Rob and I are meticulous about tracking our mileage towards our BHAG and he’s not going to like that I’m 34.3 km closer than him…but I think he’ll forgive me!

*photo courtesy of Bikes & Beans. Not from tonight’s Cycle Chicks ride but you get the idea…

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Over 100 km this weekend #cycling

What an amazing weekend in Saint John! The weather was beautiful and lots of summer activities were enjoyed including Saturday’s Kingston Farmer’s market, Sunday Queen’s Square Farmer’s market, the “Loyalist Uptown Crit” bike race (as a spectator) and my first annual plant swap.

The highlight of the weekend was a 90.2 km bike ride (map of our route below). It was a little overcast Saturday morning (so not too hot) and the little wind there was was at our back for the longest leg of the ride through “Long Reach”. As you can see we faced our share of climbs on the Peninsula  (the green line on the top image) but all and all it was a great ride. Our new stretch goal is a 135 km ride which will include 3 ferry rides: the Romeo & Juliet, the Belleisle and the Evendale. Will likely be September before we tackle that one.

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Do you hear what I hear? #cycling

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I wrote an earlier blog post about a bike ride last year where I was particularly aware of all the interesting smells along our route but today it was my sense of hearing that seemed to be in over-drive….

Our usual Saturday route includes riding through suburban, rural and urban/industrial areas which offer many different opportunities for “music” to the ear. This morning the suburban sounds included many that you would expect including lawn mowers, dogs barking (except for that sweet little dachshund that just sat quietly in his driveway and watched us go by), children jumping on a trampoline and people on the sidewalk saying “good morning” and “great day for a bike ride”. The rural areas that we bike through are always my favourite because I get to hear the sounds of nature more than anything else. Although one still has to be keenly aware of the sound of an occasional car approaching from behind, you get to hear wonderful things like the wind in the trees and birds chirping. Finally, the section of highway that makes up the last part of our route is kind of scary and the vehicular noise can be unpleasant….like the sounds of transport trucks whizzing by and car horns but today even this stretch of road offered some nicer sounds such as water rushing over the rocks in little makeshift waterfalls which had resulted from all the rain we’ve had recently.

What was the sweetest sounds that I heard today you may be wondering? It was the sound of my husband’s voice as we talked about parenting and travel and our health and life as we pedaled along…

Lady Cyclists of Greater Saint John Unite #cycling #peoplecity

Lady cyclists of Greater Saint John unite! On Sunday, May 13th we meet at the Rothesay Commons at 11:30 a.m. We’ll head over to the Kingston Peninsula for a casual bike ride featuring rolling hills and beautiful water views. All skill levels welcome. Bring a snack and we’…ll picnic along the way. Plan for a 90 minute ride.

Cyclo Femme is presented by Girl Bike Love. “Our mission is to create a unified voice for women in cycling, encouraging and empowering more riders. By highlighting the health and environmental benefits, community building and positive social impact that cycling can have on our world, we hope to engage more female riders.” For more info on the inspiration for this event visit www.cyclofem.me

Register for the event Cyclofemme Rothesay Ride on Facebook

Cyclofemme Rothesay Ride 2012 tatts

 

As luck would have it…

Mother nature was on our side today. Got out for our second annual St Patrick’s Day ride. Covered 10.4 km. My husband bought a new Garmin Edge 200 GPS so we had fun looking at our stats when we got home. It tracks everything and gives a very cool map of route and elevation. Neat!

We’ve plugged our 2012 goal in to Garmin as well… 2000 km! We’re 0.5% there already!

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Cycling takes a back seat to cancer for us this year #cycling #cancer

If you’ve been following my cycling blog at all you may have noticed a marked lack of updates recently. My husband/soul mate/cycling partner was diagnosed with Leukemia and admitted to the hospital a week ago today. How did this happen? Last Thursday he went in for routine blood work. Our family doctor called on Friday morning to say that there was a problem and they were admitting him on Sunday for further test. That’s when they told us that he has Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and that he would be in the hospital for 4-5 weeks. Likely off work for 6 months. He has a tough battle ahead…

Today is day 6 of chemo and he’s doing as well as can be expected. He’s otherwise healthy with what the doctor described as “the heart of an athlete”.  He says I probably saved his life by getting him in to cycling, fit and ready to take on this aggressive treatment. We won’t know for another week if he will need a bone marrow transplant.

For 3 weeks leading up to his diagnosis he was feeling tired with a general lack of energy but chalked it up to not enough sleep, job stress etc… 2 weeks ago we cycled 65 km and he found it difficult. He was convinced that something was wrong with his bike. Strange that it never occurred to him that there might be something wrong with him.

You just never think that something like this will happen to you or the ones you love. Hug your cycling buddy today.

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not a ray of sunshine in sight #cycling #forecast #weather

This weather is enough to dampen (pun intended) the will of the most die hard outdoor enthusiast!! It’s cold…it’s rainy…it’s windy! Gusts up to 50 km/h today. Who doesn’t just want to go home and curl up with a cup of tea and a good book. It’s not only psychological…it’s physical. According to what I’ve read, lack of Vitamin D “the sunshine vitamin” has been linked to depression. I don’t have any hard and fast clinical data to back up the claim… all I know is that I find this forecast very depressing! 
Forecast_may_24th

Road Hazards #cycling #peoplecity

Whenever I go cycling in and around my community I risk my life. This may seem overly dramatic but, honestly, with the pot holes, cracked pavement, narrow street (edged with sand/rubble/broken glass and other debris), busy intersections, distracted motorists… it’s a dangerous way to stay fit. To stay safe one must stay alert and confident…take the road when necessary, “act” like a car and use hand signals. After a ride, when I get close to home and know that I’ve successfully navigated that last tricky intersection, I breath a sign of relief…made it!

 

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cycling in the slow lane…NYC

On a recent trip to NYC, a group of us joined an organized cycling/sightseeing tour. It took us an entire afternoon to do 25 km so (needless to say) we weren’t breaking any speed record but it was a fantastic way to see the city! In the past we have done a lot of walking but you can’t cover near as much ground and I find it’s much more draining.

We started our tour in Gramercy near Union Square. The tour took us across the Williamsburg Bridge and in to Brooklyn. After touring some charming, industrial and up and coming residential neighbourhoods of Brooklyn we stopped at the Brooklyn Brewery for some fortification in the form of a tasty IPA and some brick oven pizza. The tour then took us through Brooklyn’s Hasidic community on their Sabbath. Everyone was regally dressed in their “Sunday best”. We then cycled through the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Fort Greene. The tour made another stop in Dumbo (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) for a quick bio break and a visit to the lovely Almondine Bakery. The final leg of the journey took us back across the East River via the Brooklyn Bridge, across Manhattan to the Hudson River where we followed the impressive bike way up to the West Village and back to the bike shop where the tour began. 13 “tourists” and 3 tour guides survived the experience. Our main tour guide Johannes was very knowledgeable and we really enjoyed his Austrian accent! Our tour was called “The Delights of Brooklyn”.  Check it out at www.bikethebigapple.com

 NYC 2012 011 

Custom Bike racks for Saint John #cycling #peoplecity #livelifeuptown

Funky new bike rack program being launched in Saint John. I hope businesses and organization take advantage of this… has the potential to add some unique flair to the uptown and provide a valuable service at the same time.

According to the article that appeared in the Telegraph Journal today…”Perhaps you’re a coffee shop who would like a coffee cup-shaped bike rack out front,” Read the article here… http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/rss/article/1401730

I found a few examples on line to get the juices flowing. Some communities treat bike racks like art…what a concept!

Alligator-rack-bigBike_rackDavid_byrne_for_cityracksPump_stand

Social Media a boon for spreading a message of change #cycling #peoplecity

The explosion of social media has been a boon for people with a vision for change to spread their message.

I’m a cycling enthusiast living in Saint John, New Brunswick. In the past have felt frustrated with the barriers to enjoying my hobby and isolated from others who shared the same interests. You know that expression “there’s an app for that”?  I think the expression could also be “there’s a social networking site for that”. All one has to do is Google some key words to find an on-line network of people with a common interest. For example, there’s very cool on-line social network called Pedal Trout where I’ve found a community of cyclists in Atlantic Canada. Of course, then there’s the thousands of Blogs exploring every aspect of cycling from the technical to the psychological. I try to read a few every day. It feeds my passion even when I’m sitting at my desk watching the rain outside.

Today one of the Blogs that I read was by a friend, Jeff Roach [@jeffroach]. Jeff is a great supporter and promoter of Joe Godin [@godinsj] a local champion for better cycling infrastructure. These two guys are enthusiastic about the movement to promote active transportation in Saint John. Their enthusiasm is contagious and (as an added bonus) I don’t feel so alone anymore.

It’s all about the destination #cycling

Today we enjoyed a nice ride to the seasonal fresh produce market a.k.a. the Pumpkin Patch for some hard ice cream. This is a recurring theme for our bike rides i.e. to and from the ice cream stand, to and from the Kingston Market for breakfast. In May we’re going to NYC and have a day of biking planned (organized tour). We’ll get to see a lot of Manhattan but the tour also includes a stop at a brewery and another stop at a chocolate pastry shop. Cycling…beer…chocolate…ice cream…a few of life’s simple pleasures. Happy Easter!
easter bunny bike

mmmm..unexplained bacon #cycling

Biking is always a very sensory experience. The feel of the sun on your cheeks, the wind at your back (hopefully), the various sounds such as children playing or the roaring of a Harley Davidson (yuck). One thing I’m always keenly aware of is the smells. Today, while biking, I smelled the exhaust of a stinky old dump truck, the yummy smell of bacon wafting out of someone’s kitchen window, someone’s bounce dryer sheet, sawdust from someone’s Easter wood working project and skunk! In a few more weeks I’ll be enjoying the smell of that lilac hedge that we ride by on our way back from the Kingston Market… it only last a week or two but it’s so lovely to look at and the scent is heavenly!
 

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I’ve gone Primal #cycling #primal

I’m trying a new way of eating that more closely mirrors the way our ancestors ate before the advent of agriculture and the abundant availability of grain. The lifestyle promotes eating meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetable…even chocolate and red wine in moderations (for their antioxidants). It also says that fat is good! i.e. butter, coconut oil, olive oil.

The big no no’s are white sugar, white bread, white pasta but the plan really suggests staying away from all carbs. Even whole grains. It’s basically says that sugar is poison. Also that are bodies are not well adapted to digest grain and to make matters worse our body converts the carbs we eat to sugar. It’s a low carb diet which suggests keeping your carb intake to less than 100-150 grams per day.

I’ve read a lot about nutrition recently and there is a lot of conflicting ideas out there. I believe you are what you eat and I’m ready to leave behind the junk & the pre-package convenience food for a more authentic way of eating. I look around and can’t believe the way some people abuse their bodies. I’m fascinated about the human body and want to understand how it works and how I can optimize my health.

The Primal Blueprint is mostly about the way you eat but it does promote exercise as well. It doesn’t promote a lot of heavy cardio (i.e. hours on the treadmill at the gym yuck!) . Instead, the plan promotes an active lifestyle combined with weight lifting. (30 mins, 2-3 times per week with heavy weights). 

The above is just a quick peek at what it means to get primal. If you’re curious like me, check out…

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/

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I’m folding even before the cards are dealt #30daysofbiking

Forecast
Rain…rain…rain… that’s what’s in the forecast. I signed up for 30 days of biking as a fun thing to do but I’m already dreading it so I’ve decided to set a different goal for myself. Instead of 30 days it’s 200 km for me in April. Fine…call me a wimp! I can take it. (I just can’t take the rain and the cold…) 

Just signed up for #30daysofbiking

If you’re like me you’re always looking for that extra little motivation. I stumbled on to this and thought…Why not? My only question for the organizers. Why April? I realize that in many parts April is a beautiful month but around here the weather is still very unpredictable. According to the website “The Deal: Challenge: April 1–30. The only rule for 30 Days of Biking is that you bike every day for 30 days—around the block, 20 miles to work, whatever suits you—”. I’m a little nervous about putting it out there…and will be a little embarrassed if some nights is just a quick ride around my court. Oh well…come on April…let’s see what ya got!   http://30daysofbiking.com

Itching to get on my bike…Literally! #cycling

I’m what you would call a “fair weather cyclist” but that beautiful sun tricked me today. I knew it was cold out so I went digging in my closet for what to wear to keep me cozy and I remembered them… my vintage Schoeller® skifans. They’re tight stretchy ski pants but would also work well for cycling I thought. They’re a blend of wool & other stuff so a little itchy but not too bad. Perfect! I slipped them on over my trusty Louis Garneau padded undergarment, a few layers on my upper body, my smart wool socks, a thin pair of gloves over my fingerless biking gloves and a scull cap under my helmet. I set out to do 17km but cut it short at 10km. The wind was brutal & my thumbs and toes were numbs but my trusty skifans delivered. I was so glad that I remembered I had these! Once home with my warm cup of coffee I did some digging on-line and found this info
Early Trendsetter

Technical progress makes numerous rationalization and automation measures possible. In the years after the Second World War, Schoeller grows at an above-average rate. Man-made fibers such as Nylon and Lycra make their way from the US to Europe. A new ere of modern clothing begins, Schoeller takes up this trend and develops elastic fabrics. The first stretch ski pants come into existence, heralding the end of the widely-used “scratchy” wool pants.

1954
First trials with “modern” polyester fibers for wool/polyester fabrics.

1961

Launch of the first elastic fabric for ski wear under the name “skifans” from today’s perspective the first soft shells.

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Saint John is not a bicycle friendly community #cycling

In Saint John you don’t see many people on bicycles. I’ve talked to people informally about it and asked why they think people don’t bike more and here’s what I heard…

1) Too many hills: Obviously, this is something we can’t change. Personally I like the hills… it’s built in interval training. That being said our geography does not lend itself to a leisurely commute to work on your bike.

2) Potholes: This is one that the city can do something about! I would never drive a road bike on the streets of Saint John. I’d be stopping frequently to fix flat tires. Even my hybrid take a beating. Drive down most any street in Saint John and close your eyes (figuratively). You’d think you were doing the rocks and roots of Rockwood park!
3) No dedicated bike lanes: There are a few around the city but invariably people park their cars in them which causes the cyclist to swerve out in to traffic. This is not a problem unique to Saint John. Even big cities like New York face this challenge.
4) Nowhere to park your bike: Imagine you wanted to bike uptown to the market on Saturday morning for breakfast. Where would you park your bike? Companies who employ a lot of people uptown should be encouraging their employees to bike to work and be providing bike racks or lobbying the city to install bike racks.

What can we do about it? Get vocal. Rally the troops!  Support ATSJ “Active Transportation Saint John”. Until this morning, I had no idea that this group even exists in Saint John. Now that I know I will be lending my support…

“Active Transportation Saint John (ATSJ) is a grassroots community group promoting human powered modes of transportation like cycling, walking, jogging and running to get fit, commute and have fun. This group of volunteers is dedicated to improving the recreational and commuter cycling routes in the City of Saint John. The current focus of the group is to gain support for cycle friendly infrastructure, such as on street bike lanes and off road trails.”  Visit their blog at http://atsj.wordpress.com/

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My story of "out of town strange"

If you’ve ever watched Two & a Half Men you may be familiar with this phrase…but I’m not talking about the same thing as Charlie Harper. I’m talking about biking in the White Mountains last summer. We got tickets to see Joan Armatrading at the Stone Mountain Arts Centre in Brownfield Maine (amazing venue). Of course we were at the height of cycling season so we had to bring our bikes along.

We were not working with a topographical map. As you can imagine a regular map gives you very little indication of the climbs that you might face. But, seeing that we were in the White Mountains we expected a few hills. Little did we know that about 2/3rds in to our 20 mile bike ride we would face a climb like none we’d ever seen before. It kept going up and up. Once you start up a big mountain you’re kind of committed and you always think that the top must be just around the next corner. Well, we did eventually reach the top to face an amazing ride down a nicely paved road parallel to the King Pine ski hill. What a rush!

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20 mile loop, Eaton N.H., White Mountains.
(B) is the approx end of the ascent and the start of the decent down King Pine.
(C) is the Inn at Crystal Lake. Beautiful place to stay.